goodbye, Grandma

Grandma at Kate's birthday party. The last time I saw her, I'm so glad she made the trip up.

Grandma at Kate’s birthday party. The last time I saw her, I’m so glad she made the trip up.

My Grandma died last Monday. She was 78. My mom’s mom, she was always my young vibrant Grandma, younger than everyone else’s (she had 3 kids by the time she was 20). She was a fireball – a woman who loved so hard, worked so hard, had been through so much, and maintained a sense of style and awesome sense of humor through it all. She always, always said exactly what came to mind and lacked a filter to a fault – which could be hard, but that was just what made grandma, grandma. I remember when we were trying to have kids at Thanksgiving one year (a year and a half in or so) and she asked, “where are the kids, hun? This ain’t right.” and I ran to the bathroom and cried. It broke my heart. She loved little kids so much, I’ve never seen a grandma who was just bonkers over kids like she was. As long as her body allowed it she was right down on the ground playing cars (ud-nud-nud-ing and vrooming) with her great-grandkids. I’m so glad that my kids got to meet her, though I’m not sure how well they will remember her. She always had gifts she picked up at “the goodwill” for the kids, bags and bags full of them – which both made me sigh because the kids didn’t need any more and they were often the wrong age range, but I just smiled and said thank you, because buying for them was what kept her happy and knowing we have her last haul that she brought 4 hours up to Kate’s birthday makes me very, very sad.

She had a nickname for everybody – I was “Netter” my sister “Emmerrrrrrr” and we were her only two granddaughters in a sea of grandsons. Every time we saw her, whoever had the longest hair was her favorite and she told us both and we would giggle about it. I don’t think we were the kind of granddaughters she ever expected to have, two tall, athletic, tomboyish girls but we knew we were loved fiercely and she was proud of us.

Her health had been declining over the last few years, but she wasn’t actively fighting anything at the moment. It was a shock. She had been through cancer and chemo, was hospitalized for a month with pneumonia, but through it all she would show up to family events with a smile and a laugh. She was a one of a kind, sweet, hilarious woman and I will miss her dearly.

I got the news last Monday around 8 am that she was gone. She had a heart attack and didn’t make it. I was crying and walking around the house in a haze ~ she had called me the week before and I never got back to her. I felt awful that I’d missed my chance and now I’d never get to talk to her again because I was “too busy”. I packed up the kids and my stuff and we drove down to Indiana to be with my family. I was crying off and on and Leopold kept trying to make me happy and I said sometimes it’s okay to cry and be sad. I explained to him again what happened and he suddenly understood death. He was bawling and said “But I’m not going to die! I’m going to live forever and ever and so are you!” No, buddy, no one lives forever. I told him it was Grandma’s mommy who died and he said. “well we have to get her a new one. Because everybody needs a Mommy. We love the mommies.” At the visitation, after he saw the body, my sweet sensitive boy bawled off and on for 30 minutes and said “I just didn’t want her to die and be gone forever.” Watching my son grapple with mortality and react so emotionally to it all was very hard, I just didn’t expect him to get it like he did.

Love you, Grandma. We will miss you dearly.

I could keep talking about my Grandma and memories and thoughts and feelings for a long time. But, I’m trying to head out the door for a run to clear my head and get back into a groove. It’s good to be back home and get back to normal after a hard, emotional week. I’m going to miss my grandma something awful, but I know it’s only an iota of what my mom and aunt are feeling. I want to focus more on seeing family and spending quality time with them. I have one great-grandma left (she is 98!) that I need to see and Carlos has a Grandma and Grandpa up in Minnesota we really need to see soon.

How did you talk to your kids about death and dying?

How did your priorities or outlook change after the death of a loved one?

 

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5 thoughts on “goodbye, Grandma

  1. Like I said on Twitter, we were astounded by how much Stella understood when her Auntie Jaime died. She was only 2yr3m old, and … she gets it. I mean, we talk about Heaven and God a lot which I think gives her (and us) comfort, but she knows that Jaime can never come back to see us again here on Earth, and that makes her sad. She also makes believe a lot that she’s going to visit her, which breaks our hearts (and makes them whole, paradoxically). It’s a hard situation, but honesty is the best policy IMO… they’re smart kiddos, you know? And it’s good for them to know that it’s OKAY to talk about the things that make us sad.

    Also, I have more of a no-nonsense outlook on friendships/relationships since losing Jaime. It reminded me that it’s okay to not put up with situations I’m not happy with, just b/c I’m afraid of hurting someone else. Pulling the kids from daycare was the best thing I’ve done for them, and cutting the drama-filled friendships out of my day-to-day life has been uplifting. We make more of an effort to spend time with family & close friends, and that’s what makes us happy.

  2. Both Stella and Leopold’s reaction really surprise me. I guess because we haven’t been through it yet with Chloe (please knock on all the wood) I don’t have any idea how she would react. Actually I take that back, my grandma passed away two years ago now, but Chloe was too little to understand. Not only are you having to deal with your own emotions, but now the kids are needing to be consoled too and asking questions that are sure to pull at your heartstrings. I’m so sorry for your loss; your grandma sounds like one of a kind.

  3. I am so so sorry about the loss of your Grandma. She sounds like such a special lady and such an important person in your life. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to see L dealing with the loss as well. Like Steph, we, knock on wood, haven’t had to deal with that with Lids yet, so not sure how she would react. They do seem to understand so much though, eh? I have one grandmother and one grandfather left (Anthony doesn’t have any) and we are going to see them in Scotland in December so that will be nice for them to meet Esme, but we know it could be the last time as they get older and our visits to the UK are less and less due to money.

    Again, I am so sorry for your loss. Big hugs!

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss. The kid was 2.5 when my grandpa died and I think she understood it somewhat. We talked about heaven and death with her pretty frankly but she was worried for maybe a year or more that we would die (so we emphasized how most people live to be very old and great grandparents and that’s a very long time from now). We also went to the library and read books about when people we love die and that helped her too.

  5. So very sorry for your loss, A. Seeing it mirrored in your kids must be just so difficult, but at the same time I am glad they are there for you and you for them. She seems like a really cool lady, and was a real looker! Hugs, friend. xoxo

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